More than 550 children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have left armed groups in the past five months, the United Nations humanitarian relief arm today announced.
“The awareness campaign calling for children to leave armed groups succeeded in demobilising 557 children between March and August,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.
The children had been relocated from the territories of Malemba Nkulu, Manono, Mitwaba and Pweto, in Katanga province.
Some 444 children are in temporary centres in Kalemie, Lubumbashi, and Manono, while 113 others have been reunited with their families, OCHA said.
An additional 1,500 children are still in the ranks of armed groups in the province, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) which supports the release campaign.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, has cautioned that thousands of children continue to be abducted, recruited, killed, maimed, or raped in conflicts around the world.
The DRC has signed Action Plans to end the recruitment and use of children, as well as sexual violence against children.